Cassidy’s Top Five Songs of the Week 11/30/15

Slowdive

Slowdive

Cassidy Reed, SPN Junior Editor-In-Chief

Welcome to a column dedicated to my weekly top five favorite songs. Hopefully you’ll find something that tickles your fancy and/or tickles your earholes. Either way, I’m just sharing content I find to be quality; there will be anything from new releases to old classics. Happy listening!

 

imgres  “Dagger“-by Slowdive, a turn of the 90’s, shoegaze, dream-pop five piece. Slowdive is often compared to Mazzy Star, Mogwai, and My Bloody Valentine. The band consists of Rachel Goswell on vocals and guitar, Neil Halstead on vocals and guitar, Simon Scott on drums, Christian Savill on guitar, and Nick Chaplin on bass. Halstead’s lyrics and both his and Goswell’s vocals have an ethereal longing. The lyrics don’t tell a necessarily coherent story, but like poetry, there is a subliminal message that is inherently felt and understood. The entirety of Slowdive’s Souvlaki is composed of dreamy, stretched out guitar haze. Shoegaze, as a whole, was received and then quickly rejected by critics. The Seattle grunge scene kicked the legs of shoegaze out from under it. Listening to Souvlaki and the recent comeback of shoegaze make it apparent that shoegaze did not get the chance it deserved and has proved its nebulous, fuzzy sound is timeless.

 

 

imgres-1  “Reptilians“-by synthpop/electronic indie rock group STRFKR. STRFKR is a Portland, Oregon originating trio with Joshua Hodges, formerly known as Sexton Blake, on vocals, guitar and songwriting, Shawn Glassford on bass, and Keil Corcoran on vocals; all members play both the drums and keyboard. STRFKR started out as a solo project of Hodges’ called Sexton Blake, but in time, became a group effort. Inevitably, a name change came about. The obviously obscure moniker was meant to represent everything the band didn’t want to be: a complete joke. With all the variants in band names, STRFKR really isn’t too far fetched. Bet a few groups wish they had nabbed it first. STRFKR’s sophomore album, Reptilians, was an album welcomed by the listener and rejected by the critic. Hodge’s blatantly funereal lyrics are threaded into music upbeat enough to almost make you forget their dejected, woeful nature. The album also features several soundbites of various Alan Watts lectures. The relentless comparison of Reptilians to MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular was, and is, pointless, mainly becasue the artists had different goals. Reptilians is an alien abduction that you don’t mind a bit. In fact, you welcome it with open arms because it takes you off of your feet and out of your mundane daily. Oracular Spectacular is a peyote trip, at a rave misplaced in the desert. In Reptilians, you can hear Hodges looking death in the eye and smiling, and on some visceral level, we all completely relate.

 

 

imgres-2  “Stonehearted Man“- by Anthony Green, frontman of Circa Survive and vocalist of Saosin. What a busy guy! How could it be any different with that voice? After the release of Saosin’s debut EP Translating the Name, in 2003, the band decided to sign with a commercial label, and this ultimately resulted in the departure of Green from the band’s lineup. Green, from 2004 to 2008, was part of a project called The Sound of Animals Fighting, and while maintaining this group, Green was also juggling Circa Survive and his solo project. Green reunited with Saosin, in 2014, and hinted at the possibility of new material. To date, Green is active in Circa Survive, his solo career, and Saosin; including his solo career, Green has been a member of about eight different bands and side projects. In the debut album of his solo career, Avalon, Green is able to strip down in a way that isn’t a striptease or act for groveling fans; he exposes himself in a way that isn’t vain. The album comes off as being a conversation eavesdropped on, like hearing a pet name whispered in someone’s ear by their partner. Green’s intention of the album is obviously not to stroke his own ego but to get something, with weight that he couldn’t ask a band to carry, off of his chest. The majority of the album is Green with his acoustic guitar, save a few tracks with guest appearances. Green suffered from heroin addiction, but is now sober, married, and a father of two. In an article, regarding his addiction, Green said, “Admitting that is terribly embarrassing, but I feel like there’s a lot of people in my position. There’s a lot of people who have gone through or are going through what I went through and I think it’s important for those people to realize that it’s okay to let people in and let people know, ‘I’m struggling with this, I need help.’ That doesn’t make you a bad parent or a bad husband or person. It makes you stronger.” His capacity to be honest and ability to look back on who he was and his mistakes, with gratitude, makes him one of the most important artists of our time.

 

 

 

imgres-3  Still Fighting It“-by former frontman of Ben Folds Five turned solo: Ben Folds. “Still Fighting It”, without a doubt, is one of the most serious songs on his debut solo album, Rockin’ the Suburbs. Critics misunderstood his humor, at the time, for purely being immaturity, and maybe some of his lyrics are the equivalent of a middle-schooler writing a curse word on a wall or crusty desk. It’s clear now that Folds has never been anything but a musical genius, because whether you want to admit it or not, you giggled at that delinquent doodler. His lyrics are often esoteric; he loves to hide his “white boy pain” under lyrics like “white boy pain”. Folds can tell one helluva story, and his best assets are his cynical side and sense of humor. His sarcastic disposition is what he has to offer us (along with his musical talent). Often, his talent in the actual music of music is overlooked due to his lyrical antics and shenanigans. Folds’ latest album So There proves that he is capable of handling the integration of pop and orchestral ensembles. The sincerity of “Still Fighting It”, to his son and about the pain associated with the transition from childhood to paying for Arby’s, coming from Folds, hits home. Folds is a musician that has demonstrated his capacity to be a distanced goof and a serious, naked, vulnerable hearth of emotion.

 

 

imgres-4  “Le Temps de l’amour“- by Parisian singer Françoise Hardy. Hardy was a notable and standout yé-yé pop artist in the 60’s because she wrote her own material, while no other female artists in the game were.”Le Temps de l’amour” was featured in the climactic romance scene of Wes Anderson‘s “Moonrise Kingdom” and this fact alone makes the listening of this song a nostalgic, surreal experience.

 

Album of the Week:Reptilians by STRFKR

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